Al-Sadr rejects all forms of dealing with Iran (Assaad Niazi/AFP)
The recent attempts of the commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Ismail Qaani, to meet with the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, did not succeed, although the former sought to meet more than once during the past three months, at a time when al-Sadr appeared to reject all forms of dealing with Iran. And its mediation to bring together the Shiite parties to agree on forming the next government, the recent events and the protests of supporters of the Sadrist movement in Baghdad and the entry into the parliament building in the Green Zone, in the center of the capital, Baghdad, have proven the depth of the estrangement between Sadr and Iran, especially after a tweet by Sadr’s spokesman Saleh Muhammad al-Iraqi, he said. In it, “a happy trip,” coinciding with Qaani’s departure from Baghdad last week, was understood as a cynical farewell to him.
— Minister of Commander – Saleh Muhammad Al-Iraqi (@salih_m_iraqi) July 27, 2022
Al-Sadr does not miss any tweet or blog on his well-known and official social media platforms, except that he mentions “subordination,” referring to the armed factions affiliated with Iran, while he raised a slogan in his last election campaign, “Neither Eastern nor Western,” in which he meant a government. It is neither affiliated with Iran nor affiliated with the United States. Also, Sadr’s supporters do not hesitate to chant against Iran in all forums and on social media, in addition to the protests taking place in the Green Zone, a precedent that was not usual for the Sadrists.
Iranian press attacks al-Sadr
On the other hand, the Iranian press went to attack al-Sadr publicly, which confirms the depth of the gap and estrangement between the two parties. Most of the Iranian newspapers loyal to the regime have warned of what they call the “danger” of Muqtada al-Sadr, on the future of the political process in Iraq, while describing the Sadrists’ protests as “sedition and riots.” “. The conservative Kayhan newspaper recently published a picture of the rally of supporters of the coordination framework close to Iran, describing it as a “show of strength in the face of sedition in Baghdad.”
And she indicated that “at a time when the Sadrist movement sparked riots in Iraq a few days ago, Iraqis supporting unity and resistance gathered in Baghdad to stand against a current that works with or without the will for the benefit of the enemies of the Iraqi people.”
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed communicated with three members of the Sadrist movement, and one of them said that “Iranian interventions in Iraq since 2011 have become negative and debilitating for Iraq, by supporting the birth of many militias, which later turned into influential political entities, and took control of Iraqi ministries and bodies. The task, until Iraq reached what it is.”
He added, asking not to be named, that “Al-Sadr does not mind that Iraq has relations with Iran, but within the limits of the commonalities between the two countries, in addition to security and economic cooperation, but Iran has gradually turned into a country that dominates all of Iraq.”
Another, currently in the Iraqi parliament building, stated that “the chants against foreign interference are not directed towards Iran only, but also to America and some Gulf countries that support corrupt parties,” noting that “Iran does not affect Iraq’s security through armed militias, but rather controls a mechanism.” Forming governments, and interventions reached the point of choosing officials and ministers before 2020 by leaders in the Revolutionary Guards, so one of al-Sadr’s goals is to save Iraq’s sovereignty from the danger of interference,” he said.
On the other hand, Ali Fadlallah, a member of the Rights Movement affiliated with the “Hezbollah Brigades,” the most prominent militia linked to Iran in Iraq, points out that “there are many misconceptions that are financed through the media and circulated in order to create a false idea, among which is that every Administrative and financial corruption in Iraq is due to the parties and forces of the coordination framework, as if the rest of the parties are not involved in corruption and failure in managing the country, and there is a political will aimed at linking the coordination framework with Iran, which is not real, because the framework is a grouping of Iraqi entities and parties.
He told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “cutting relations with Iran will not happen no matter what, because it is rooted in doctrinal and historical roots, even if there are political entities that want to cut ties with Tehran.”
Does Sadr want to cut ties with Iran?
For his part, a political analyst and professor of media at Ahl al-Bayt University in Karbala, Ghaleb al-Dami, pointed out that “the Sadrist relationship with Iran is an Iraqi one, and al-Sadr does not want to sever relations with Tehran, but he does not want Tehran to take over in Baghdad and control the political decision.” He explained, in a call with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that “Al-Sadr is currently rejecting the coordination adopted by the coordination framework in terms of agreeing to run the country in the same ways and mechanisms in the past, that is, according to the quota system, and that the majority project aims to form the government outside the scope of sectarianism and serving with the outside, and it is in His way to achieve this goal is thanks to his massive human gathering and public will and obedience.”
In turn, political researcher Ali Al-Baydar said that “talking about any Shiite party ending its relationship with Iran certainly represents a threat to Tehran, and that the latter seeks to maintain lines of communication, even if weak, with the religious and political parties within the Shiite house, specifically The Sadrist Movement,” explaining to “Al-Araby Al-Jadeed”, that “if Tehran is bankrupt from getting close to the Sadrist movement through politics, it will resort to influencing al-Sadr through sects and Shiism.”
Al-Baydar pointed out that “the Sadrists chant in their protests and sit-ins, “Iran out, out, Baghdad remains free,” and they do not mean Iran as a state, but rather the voice and followers of Iran inside Iraq. Iran is already close to the Green Zone, but al-Sadr also wants Iran to deal with Iraq as a state, not a space devoid of sovereignty, and that the era of orders, directives and blind obedience by Shiite parties end, and to ensure respect for Iraq’s privacy and non-infringement of its lands and political decision,” he pointed out. That “Iran may give al-Sadr what he wants for a while, but it will turn against him after a while, because he will not give it what it wants.”
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